A whole week on our wedding photographer selection and engagement photos, with a little bit of shopping in my closet thrown in. Because I like the pretty.
The single best [aesthetic] thing that the blogosphere has taught me re:wedding planning is that wedding photography DOESN’T SUCK ANYMORE. (Sorry. Apparently I just want to scream it from rooftops.) In fact, quite the opposite is now true.
Originally, I didn’t care at all about photography—we were just going to hand cameras to our friends or find a student off Craigslist. But once I learned that there are brilliant photographers out there and you don’t have to go into debt to hire [many of] them, photography definitely became a high priority (read: higher budget) area for us. This probably shouldn’t have been surprising given that we both love (and participate in) art and photography anyway.
Since we [ironically] picked a venue that had no restrictions on date selection, we decided we should choose a photographer next and work around his or her schedule. Well once I started looking it was like opening Pandora’s Box…or Veronica’s Closet?…Victoria’s Secret? Whatever. I just wanted to shop, and shop, and shop…
I began by bookmarking people aimlessly, and then by creating a list of people we might actually hire.
In addition to scouring blogs, APW’s Wedding Elves, and Offbeat Bride’s Offbeat Vendors, this process also included posting a wanted ad on 100 Layer Cake’s new marketplace, and I have to strongly recommend this to anyone looking for a great photog on a tight budget. I won’t name names, but we were approached by several photographers looking to expand their portfolio and/or geographic reach, and believe me our budget was a fifth of what they’d usually charge. In addition, several incredibly promising up and coming photographers also bid on our listing.
To actually make a decision, first I tried to categorize what I liked, which I would call a very West Coast, over-exposed, dreamy aesthetic. Then we focused on what Scott liked: crisp, clean images, captured emotions, and interesting-without-being-wacky-for-the-sake-of-being-wacky composition. No seriously. We spent several evenings flipping through portfolios of photographers who always put the subject in the center, or always cropped things awkwardly, or GOD FORBID, “artistically” tilted EVERY photo 45 degrees.
Once our dueling aesthetics were brought to the table, we turned to logistics. I was unequivocally not allowed to fly someone out for more than our budget allowed. And since I wanted to do an engagement session—believe me, we needed the practice—that meant that someone local was key. This narrowed the field considerably.
In the end our short list came down to 2 APW Wedding Elves, 1 100 Layer Cake vendor, and another photographer who I had bookmarked after an appearance on Snippet and Ink. After lots of emails, 1 Skype call, and 1 in person meeting, we had reached a decision…
(I wanted to extol the virtues of the photographers we couldn’t pick by name, Scott said I shouldn’t “call out” the runners up. Compromise is, if you want recommendations for other excellent photographers in NY or Boston in what was a close race, leave a comment or email me!)